A couple of weeks ago, I was in Gelephu with my colleagues to coordinate the celebration of International Youth Day 2017.
One of the activities leading up to the main event was the panel discussion on parents-children relationship which was conducted on the evening of 11th August, one day before the actual celebration.
The main objective of holding the panel discussion was to bring parents and children closer to each other and bridge the gap between them so that both the parties can understand each other better.
The participants were put on the stage: parents on one side and youth on the other. Both the groups had a basket each from where they could pick up statements to be read aloud and start the discussion with other members.
The discussion went on smoothly until one of the girls from the youth group picked up the statement “We don’t want our parents to quarrel in front of us”. While trying to explain what it meant to her, she emotionally broke down and cried.
Later, we learned from her friends that her parents had divorced just recently and we all know how painful it would have been for her to go through such a terrible experience. The statement she had got could have definitely triggered her memories of all those horrific moments she had gone through as her parents fought their ways out. Only she could know what it is like to be a victim of domestic violence and how painful it is to be deprived of the opportunity to grow up in a complete family.
Whenever we have consultations with youth, the issue of broken families often dominates the discussion. Probably due to rapid globalization and the subsequent influx of foreign cultures, our traditional family systems are fast breaking down.
People no longer seem to value marriages as much as they used to do in the past. Traditionally, a marriage is supposed to be a sacred affair which needs to be carefully planned. It is certainly not something that can be decided after dating for a few days. It’s the decision that can determine your future and that of your children.
It is very unfortunate that marriage and divorce have become part of our social life today. People seem to divorce as easily as they have decided to marry. But ultimately it is the innocent children who have to pay the price when the family split apart. Having grown up with a single parent myself, I know how much value the other parent can add to the overall wellbeing and happiness of the family. I lost my mother to Tuberculosis when I was four and since then I was raised by my father. It is true that the vacuum created by the missing parent can never be re-filled no matter how much money and wealth you have in the family.
The girl who broke down during the panel discussion in Gelephu is certainly not the only victim of such a fate.
There are many children who are dying piece by piece every day just because they don’t have anybody to call a family. The stepfathers and stepmothers are often strangers for them and in the absence of a complete family, they don’t feel at home. That is why, it is very important for parents to understand how much their children value them and want to see them together forever.
No child wishes to see his or her parents divorce because for the child, both the parents are equally precious. Therefore, we should always try our best to resolve the differences within the family through mutual understanding and open communication, and divorce should always be the last option on the table.
A trusting relationship is key to sustaining a happy marriage. It is the sacred responsibility of parents to make sure that the family serves as a safe haven for their children all the time. If they can build trust in each other, I am sure there won’t be much misunderstanding in the family. No matter how much we hate our spouses, it will never be fair on our part to let our children pay for it at the end.
By Amrith Bdr Subba
The writer is a visually challenged counselor at the Youth Center Division, Department of Youth and Sports under the Ministry of Education.